Pastor Pete's Perspective
I was a big Veggie Tales fan back in the day. Veggie Tales are animated Bible stories for children. They feature Larry the Cucumber, Bob the Tomato and a whole host of other salad bowl vegetable characters.
Veggie Tales released their first full-length feature film 15 years ago on the Jonah story. God directs Jonah to go to Nineveh to tell people to come back to God. Jonah balks at the assignment. He hops the first ship headed in the opposite direction. The sailors throw him overboard in a storm and a big fish swallows him.
In the Veggie Tales version of the story, angels visit Jonah in the belly of that fish (some call it a whale) to announce God is giving him a second chance. The angels break out in a rousing chorus about second chances. “If you say you’re sorry for all the stuff you do, know that He is ready for a second chance for you…Our God is a God of second chances.”
The Bible is full of stories about God giving people second chances. God gives Abraham and Moses a second chance. God gives David a do-over in his colossal screw-up with Bathsheba. Jesus gives the thief on the cross a second chance. The story of Peter’s life is a classic second chance redemption story. During Jesus’ trial, Peter denies his master three times in quick succession. It’s a monumental failure, to be sure. Fortunately, Jesus gives Peter a second chance to fulfill what he earlier promised.
Biblical people are not the only ones who get a do-over. God offers us plenty of second chances! Do not trifle with God’s second chances. There will come a time at the end of your life when the offer runs out. Right now, it is still on the table. Some of you need a do-over right now. You messed up. Lord, I need a second chance. Take the mulligan. Play the same shot over again. Do it now. Ask the God of second chances to help you begin again.
Go back to the Veggie Tales song. “If you say you’re sorry for all the stuff you do, we know He will be ready with a second chance for you…Our God is a God of second chances.” God is all about second chances.
How does all of this relate to the focus of this blog on unplugging from social media? The research is coming to us in waves right now that an excessive amount of screen time actually lowers self-esteem and increases anxiety in people. I practice regular intervals of unplugging to think God’s thoughts in Scripture and center my life in this God of second chances. Find ways to listen to God’s second–chance message. As the angels sing in Veggie Tales, “Our God is a God of second chances.”
Peter James came to Vienna Presbyterian in 1979. He served for several years as an Associate Pastor and became Senior Pastor in 1986. Pete received his Bachelor’s Degree in Religion from Ohio Wesleyan, his Masters of Divinity from Gordon Conwell Seminary and his Doctorate in Ministry from Union Seminary in Richmond. Prior to coming to VPC, he served as campus minister and football coach at Thiel College in Pennsylvania.
Pete is passionate about sharing Christ with people through preaching, teaching and church planting. He has been instrumental in planting three churches in Northern Virginia and taught at Gordon Conwell Seminary. Pete and his wife Chris have two grown children, Andrew and Emily. Andrew is pastor of First Church Congregational in Boxford, MA. He and his wife Becky have three children, Luke,Wesley, and Juliette. Emily is a high school counselor in Lewisburg, PA. Emily and Mike have two children, Michael and Ainsley. Pete is a big sports enthusiast and enjoys playing racquetball.